Monday, March 5, 2012

Redefining Masculinity and Femininity

               Within the article, “How to Make a Critically Acclaimed TV Show About Masculinity,” Amanda Marcotte argues that the media has begun to create texts that feature powerful men existing within manly worlds, yet they are now questioning what it truly means to be “masculine.” She further explains that shows such as “Mad Men” take the quintessential masculine man and have him question his socially constructed ideals that “men should be in control, able to act decisively without help, and able to lead without anyone questioning their authority.” Men face personal limits stemming from their own views of what manhood should look like and face the dilemma of whether to break out from gender norms or remain within their gender role. For the character of Don Draper, he begins to turns his life around by abandoning his attachment to old-fashioned notions of male power. Marcotte states, “He stops dating women because they fit the mold of the compliant trophies, and instead finds some measure of peace dating an independent, challenging woman his own age.” Though Draper works to break out from the socially-constructed norms of what makes a man masculine, he is eventually policed back into his womanizing ways by the beginning of the 5th season. This example demonstrates how difficult it is for person to move against cultural norms and reinvent themselves.                  
              After reading this article about redefining what masculinity can look like, it reminded me of the struggles Katharine Mcphee encounters in “Smash” in her attempt to portray Marilyn Monroe. Mcphee is a woman who is not overtly sexy or confident, instead she appears to be a shy and meek character. After receiving a call back to star in the Broadway musical “Marilyn,” she must learn to alter herself and become a hyper-sexualized being in order to show her versatility. Within this scene, Mcphee must abandon her previous notions of what is considered to be feminine and embrace a new kind of femininity. Like Draper, the audience sees that she can move out of her comfort zone and embody a new definition of gender, yet she will eventually be policed back into her old ways. Mcphee proves to the director that she can use her body in a sexual way, but she will only act this way on stage and not in her actual life.

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